Helmut Kohl, Chancellor Who United Germany, Dies at 87

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends the service
German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends the service
Author

28 June, 2017

German Chancellor Helmut Kohl (R) stands and French President Francois Mitterrand visiting the former Verdun battlefields on September 22, 1984. Guests from politics, church and society attended the event to honour Kohl on the 30th anniversary of Kohl becoming chancellor.

Former German chancellor Helmut Kohl, a colossus of contemporary European history who was celebrated as the father of German reunification and an architect of European integration, died Friday at the age of 87.

Bild reported in its online edition that Kohl died on Friday morning in his home in Ludwigshafen, in western Germany.

As head of the Christian Democratic Union between 1973 and 1998, he was initially chancellor of West Germany before later becoming the first leader of the unified state.

The fall of the German wall in November 1989 opened a new era in European politics, and as the chasm between West and East Europe melted, European unification also became a possibility.

Former US President Bill Clinton - who honored Kohl with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999 - mourned the loss of his friend, saying his "visionary leadership prepared Germany and all of Europe for the 21st century". As he had used the favor of the hour after the fall of the Berlin Wall, "this was the highest level of government in the service of people and peace", said Merkel, who grew up in the former East Germany. This required great political strength and courage - both of which qualities Helmut had in abundance, he added. Within weeks, Kohl proposes an informal confederation that would lead to eventual German reunification. Kohl's legacy includes the common euro currency-now used by 19 nations-that bound Europe more closely together than ever before. He also drew criticism for failing to embark on economic reforms.

The following year, Kohl plunged his party into crisis when he admitted accepting undeclared donations during his time as chancellor.

During a relatively uneventful first phase of his tenure as chancellor, Kohl built solid relationships with leaders of western states such as France and the United States, and also with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Kohl was elected premier of Rhineland-Palatinate in 1969.

Kohl's party, the Christian Democrats, tweeted his image with the words "We are mourning".

Macron also addressed to German chancellor Angela Merkel and to Germany his testimony of sympathy and friendship. His oldest brother, Walter, was killed in action a few months earlier. The united Germany he helped to bring about is today the key player in the financial and political saga of Europe.

— 2008: Marries his second wife, Maike Richter.

Kohl succeeded in "taking into account the interests of others and overcoming general mistrust to achieve mutual trust", the former Soviet leader said.


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